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Adobe InDesign Juggernaut

Even if Quark includes every feature from Adobe InDesign, plus all the unique new capabilities of QuarkXPress 7, I don’t think it will get the majority of InDesign users to switch back to QuarkXPress. And that’s natural: Quark’s dozen-year monopoly of the page layout market necessarily created a large number of people who are simply unhappy with Quark’s approach. One Size Does Not Fit All. Ever. So in a user base as large, diverse, and creative as the graphic design world, there will always be many, many people who feel alienated, shackled, and disappointed by being forced to use any one tool for their day-to-day work. I believe that’s why when Adobe released InDesign, thousands of users flocked to it, shaking their fists wildly behind them at Quark, expressing their frustration and anger at a product and a company that they never liked in the first place.

And that’s great! It’s great for the industry and for the users. No one would deny that competition is good. Developers are pushed to be more creative, and products are revised more quickly. Prices adjust to new market realities: QuarkXPress costs $749, $200 less than version 6, but still $50 more than InDesign. And in a move to recapture classrooms that have switched to InDesign, education copies cost only $99.

The arrival of a viable competitor also means that, for the first time in recent history, graphic designers need to be fluent in two page layout applications. Because of that, I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that almost everyone who is involved in page layout will own a copy of QuarkXPress 7. Here’s why:

  • Output providers will own a copy because they need to output their customers’ QuarkXPress files.
  • Current users of QuarkXPress will upgrade because of the inherent cost savings of not having to train employees on a new program, and because of their collection of existing QuarkXPress documents that they can simply open and update.
  • Freelancers and anyone else who deals with other peoples’ files will need to stay current with QuarkXPress so that they can continue working with their clients and other freelancers who use QuarkXPress.

The only business organizations I can foresee not purchasing a copy of QuarkXPress 7 are the ones with an in-house design department that has already switched entirely to InDesign—and there are quite a few of them. Adobe worked very hard, with considerable success, to get many publishing companies to switch to InDesign. Although these organizations have no immediate reason to purchase QuarkXPress, they might consider doing so as they realize the cost savings that Quark Job Jackets, its new collaboration features, and its cross-media features could give to their bottom line.

And on the Macintosh side of the business, a fascinating combination of events has improved Quark’s chance of getting users to upgrade. QuarkXPress 7 is the first major design application to run natively on the Intel-based Mac. Intel-based Macs can no longer run "Classic" Mac OS 9 applications. This means that anyone who buys a new Mac can no longer run QuarkXPress 3, 4, or 5. Many users skipped upgrading to QuarkXPress 6, which was the first version to run on Mac OS X. So, all those users are currently running QuarkXPress in the Classic environment of Mac OS X on a PowerPC-based Mac. When they buy a new Intel-Mac, they will be forced to upgrade to QuarkXPress 7 because their current version will not work on it.

This puts Quark in a very good position. If we assume there are three million users of QuarkXPress worldwide, and that 25 percent of them have switched entirely to InDesign, that’s still 2.25 million potential upgrades. If even half that many upgrade, that gives Quark a substantial fund for continued development and marketing.

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